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"Remember the Titans"

Directed by Boaz Yakin.
Written by Gregory Allen Howard. 
Starring Denzel Washington and Will Patton.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  10/12/00 


This and a few more Bellviews are going to be a bit shorter than usual, because I have a broken pinky and typing is a bit tougher than normal.  Speaking of which, have you ever broken a pinky?   In terms of injuries, this one is a minor one, and I am thankful that in all of the years that I have been playing basketball, baseball and tennis, this is my first serious injury.  But, after going to the doctor today, I am trying to make these visits few and far between.

So, I'm sitting in the doctor's office this morning.  Two different doctors at the Kaiser Permanente medical center in Falls Church didn't know what to do with my finger since it was twisted inwards when I broke it in a flag football practice last Saturday.  Today's doc sent me to get new x-rays and then sat down with me to show me that the twist wasn't as bad as originally thought.  To avoid surgery though, she would have to twist the finger back into place and then splint the finger.  So, after shooting me with three shots of novocaine--one to the outer-most vein on my right hand sent blood flying six inches into the air--my hand was high like a kite, you know what I'm saying?  This was good, since I couldn't feel the doctor's hands as she jerked and twisted my pinky until it was reasonably close to reset.  At one point, she was pulling on the finger so hard that she asked, "Are you sure that doesn't hurt?  I'm pulling as hard as I can!", which made me (in my surreal state) wonder what it would look like it she actually pulled the finger off.  Hmm--not a pleasant picture.

But, to relax my hopped-up nerves, Kristin "Mack" Hollingsworth and I went to see "Remember the Titans" tonight.  This one delivered the goods!  Kristin and I were all smiles after it was over, and we both said almost the same thing:  this was THE best feel-good movie we've seen in a long time.  It is on those rarest of occasions when a movie seems to have almost everything you can ask for from film:  action, adventure, romance, drama, comedy...hell, this one's even got some musical themes working for it.  And, it does all of them at a very, very high level.

Briefly, the plot:  in 1971 in Alexandria, Virginia, a black football coach (Denzel Washington) comes up from North Carolina to take over a newly-integrated football program at TC Williams High School, where a white football coach (Will Patton) was the incumbent until the state decided that integration should start at the coaching level too.  Over the course of the season, the two coaches come together to lead the team through a hellish training camp at Gettysburg College, a regular season where one loss means termination for Denzel, intense racism and the Virginia 3a state championships.  There is plenty more drama that I am leaving out, but that just makes for a better movie experience for you if you haven't already seen this great film.

And, what makes it great?  Let us start with the obvious question:  is this movie another bad football movie, full of misfit characters, bad and fake-looking football scenes and ridiculously loud, heroic music?  No, no, no.  This football movie is surprisingly deep for what appears on the surface to be "Bring It On 2:  The Gridiron."  The mixed players on the team come together very early in the film, and for the most part, it is very easy to get into all of the fresh faces that this flick features.  The friendships that the players forge carries the first half of the film, which makes it great to see how those friendships play out over the course of the regular season and the lives of the players off the field.  The characters don't try to fit all of those stereotypes that plagued movies like "Unnecessary Roughness" and the admittedly-enjoyable-at times "Varsity Blues."  The football scenes are pretty well done--although, there were a few too many of the bone-jarring hits that make the movie sound like video-game football--and the music fits the time period.

The acting!  Oh, the acting!  The kids are allowed some real lines to say, and a few of them have to make speeches to the whole team, and they actually don't come off as cheesy!  Denzel is Denzel, so like Jordan he is money in the bank.  Will patton is pretty good here, but of all the actors in the film, you can't tell me that any of them was better than Patton's little girl Sheryl in the picture.  That kid was amazing!  Although she claims to be nine-and-a-half in the film, she just has to be older than that.  Even as an actress, it is hard to get the football lingo down as well as this girl did for "Remember the Titans."  She has a future in front of her!

Highly recommended, if you haven't already seen it.  Like I said, the movie just feels good.  In that respect, it is the perfect date movie, family movie, pre-party movie or Sunday matinee.  Or, if you have no friends, seeing it will make you think "damn, it sure would be nice to not be a complete tool."

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09